A Kashmiri man walks past a blockade put up by residents to prevent Indian security force personnel from entering their neighbourhood during restrictions, after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 21, 2019 Photo: REUTERS/ Adnan Abidi
It’s been over two weeks since Articles 370 and 35A, that granted special constitutional status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India, have been scrapped, but the region continues to be on a clampdown. Even as schools are slowly reopening, families continue to keep their kids at home.Even amidst all this unrest, a new issue rears its ugly head. Apparently, some hotels in Delhi are denying Kashmiris rooms as soon as they find out that they hail from the Valley, with some saying this discrimination is being carried out on the basis of a “government order”.
It started when Malik Aabid, a student from the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi, ranted on Twitter about his friend, a doctor from Kashmir, being denied a room at an OYO budget hotel he had already booked and confirmed in advance, after the manager saw his Aadhar card details.
“The manager’s expressions changed and he made a call to someone,” Aabid told The Hindu. “Over the phone, he was seen asking permission to allow a Kashmiri man. The person on the other side denied permission. The manager then said they have received a few WhatsApp messages which were apparently from the government stating that people from Jammu and Kashmir should not be allowed in their hotels. I also spoke to the person whom the manager had called and he too said the same.”Shocked and equally angry about this situation, the duo left the hotel. The Kashmiri guy has since been crashing at another friend’s place for fear of being denied accommodation again.Another such incident took place at another OYO hotel called Avtar located at Paharganj in New Delhi, where an employee claimed that “Beat officers have asked us not to entertain people from Kashmir, Nepal and Bangladesh around August 15.” OYO Rooms, a website that essentially provides rooms on a budget, has now initiated an inquiry into the situation, and in a statement emailed to Huffington Post, said that, “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination across all our properties and take immediate strict action, which can also lead to the termination of the contract with asset owners. Any such action that is tantamount to discrimination is a serious violation of the basic principles of OYO’s work policies.” They also said that the manager took a decision based on an unverified WhatsApp message that had been doing the rounds.
But while OYO has openly acknowledged this and launched an investigation, they aren’t the only ones allegedly denying accommodation based on a person’s Kashmiri descent after the guests give them their ID cards, which is a mandatory requirement at every hotel in India.
All this insensitivity comes at a time when people are struggling to return to normalcy in the Valley. It also raises eyebrows on whether Kashmiris are actually being integrated into the Indian society now that they are no longer conferred a special status, and have the same rights as other Indians as stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, or if it simply remains a promise on paper.Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.